2020 had been an intense year for Americans reflecting on their nation’s history. From attacks on statues to public debates about the 1619 Project
to the release of Hamilton
on a streaming service, Americans have been taking a hard look at how the history of the founding of the United States is memorialized.
Anne Lindsay’s Reconsidering Interpretation of Heritage Sites: America in the Eighteenth Century
(Routledge, 2020) explores a number of tourist attractions that play a crucial role in teaching Americans about their past. This thoughtful and critical book notes the ways in which enslaved Blacks, women, Native Americans, and working people are often neglected by plantation tours, historic houses, and other popular cultural attractions such as Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Colonial Williamsburg. She argues that in addition to including these silenced voices, such sites should also engage environmental history and colonial America’s global context. Based on a decade of research and field work, Anne Lindsay challenges these heritage sites to do a better job at integrating current historiography into their interpretations. While grounded in the coastal settlements of the East Coast of the United States of America, her arguments have relevance to larger conversations about history and memory, transcending her geographic and temporal area of expertise.
Dr. Anne Lindsay
is an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento. She earned her Ph.D. in Public History at the University of California, Riverside, and taught at the University of Central Florida before returning to California. She runs Sac State’s Capital Public History Program. In addition to being a scholar, she is a public history practitioner, focusing on historic preservation and heritage tourism.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of
The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.